Summits Yellow

Parent of Chinese news app Toutiao buys Musical.ly for reported $800m

Tyrone Stewart

Musical.lyByteDance Technology, the company China’s AI-powered news aggregator Toutiao, has reportedly acquired popular lip-syncing social video app Musical.ly for around $800m (£608m).

As reported by Bloomberg, citing people familiar with deal, the acquisition has been confirmed by Bytedance but the company did not reveal the price it paid. Bytedance allegedly beat rival bidders – including viral video streaming service Kuaishou – to seal the deal.

Musical.ly was founded in 2014 by Louis Yang and Alex Zhu in Shanghai. The app saw a massive rise in popularity when in 2016 when US teens, young people, and celebrities alike got their hands on the app. At one point, you couldn’t scroll for a few seconds without coming across somebody lip-syncing on your social media timeline. Since, at least in the US and UK, it has decreased substantially in popularity after losing the initial novelty factor.

On the back of its success, however, it did branch out beyond the lip-syncing app. In 2016, it rolled out a livestreaming app called Live.ly, and struck deals with media companies Viacom and NBCUniversal to make original.

Musical.ly’s acquisition adds its 100m plus lip-syncing users to Toutiao’s 120m readers and viewers for ByteDance. Musical.ly will continue to operate as a separate platform.

Back in February, Toutiao acquired US popular video and photo slideshow app Flipagram with the aim of expanding its footprint in the US.

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